ESPN to kill 3-D broadcasts by end of year

NEW YORK — ESPN will stop broadcasting in 3-D by the end of the year, dealing a blow to a technology launched with fanfare that has been limping along for years.

The Walt Disney Co. sports network said there are too few viewers to make 3-D broadcasts worth it. It did not say how many viewers it has, but the number is not growing.

Last year, 2 percent of TVs were able to show 3-D programs, according to the research firm IHS Screen Digest.


ESPN 3D was launched in 2010 as one of nine 3-D channels that followed the movie ‘‘Avatar.’’ TV makers rushed to introduce 3-D sets, as well. At the time, ESPN said it expected a ‘‘3-D tsunami.’’

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But few consumers proved willing to pay the extra $200 or so for a 3-D TV set. The sets also require viewers to wear special glasses. Optometrists say as many as one in four viewers have problems watching 3-D movies and TV.

ESPN said it would be ready to provide the broadcasts again ‘‘if or when 3-D does take off.’’